The Question of Antisemitism

The formal adoption of the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism by the UK Government has caused waves of controversy and debate amongst campaigners for justice in Palestine and Israel. To help you understand the issues and concerns, here is some reading on the topic, including the definition itself.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, 26 May 2016: 

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The IHRA has also issued this guidance on the state of Israel, to accompany the definition:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

You can read the full briefing and guidance paper here 

Resources to help you understand the concerns raised about the IHRA definition:

Free Speech on Israel have issued an excellent briefing paper: What is antisemitism and what is not?

They have also the full text of the Counsel’s opinion on the IHRA definition investigated by Hugh Tomlinson QC

And this article following the launch of the report: Legal opinion blasts holes in pro-Israel definition of antisemitism

The URC Reform Magazine (Feb 2017 edition) features 4 opinions on the question ‘Is it antisemitic to criticise Israel?’ including Charlotte Marshall from Sabeel-Kairos.

Friends of Sabeel Director Mark Battison has also written this Letter to Church Times

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research have just released the findings of a new survey on antisemitism in the UK (12 Sep). You can read an article about this and access the report here

Robert Cohen writes an excellent blog post following the Church of England’s adoption of the IHRA definition – Christian-Jewish dialogue must be more than taking tea and talking antisemitism

Jewish Voice for Labour write here about Kenneth S. Stern’s concern about  free speech and how the IHRA definition has been used to deny this: Why the man who drafted the IHRA definition condemns its use

Sabeel-Kairos is the operating name of Friends of Sabeel UK (FOSUK) Ltd, Charity number 1116817, Company Number 5595112

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